Lord Greaves – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Communities and Local Government

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Greaves on 2015-09-17.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in considering whether to call in planning applications for schemes involving hydraulic fracturing that have taken longer than 16 weeks to be decided upon, they will count the 16 weeks from (1) the date the application was first received by the Minerals Planning Authority or (2) the date the application was registered; and whether, in either case, they will take into account (a) the timetable agreed between the applicant and the planning authority, even if that is for longer than 16 weeks, (b) delays caused by the failure of the applicant to provide the necessary information, (c) delays caused by defects in the application, (d) delays caused by amendments to the application, (e) an estimate of the additional costs likely to result from calling in the application, and (f) whether a call-in will result in a greater delay than allowing the planning authority to continue to deal with it.

Baroness Williams of Trafford

I refer the noble Lord to the written ministerial statements of 16 September, HLWS194 and HLWS195, which set out a number of measures to enable planning applications and appeals relating to shale gas and oil to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

These include a commitment by the Secretary of State to actively consider calling-in shale planning applications. Separately, a scheme has been put in place to identify local planning authority underperformance in respect of their determination of oil and gas planning applications. The scheme uses the same threshold of underperformance set out in the document ‘Improving planning performance – Criteria for designation’, of 50% or fewer applications being made within the relevant statutory time limit, or such extended period as has been agreed in writing by the applicant. The statutory time limit applies once an application has been validated by the local planning authority. Where an authority is identified as underperforming under the scheme, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will actively consider calling-in for his determination oil and gas planning applications that are validated by that authority, in accordance with existing policy.

The decision on whether to call-in any application will be taken in line with current call-in policy. Any applications relating to shale gas that are called-in would be prioritised for urgent resolution.

If the Secretary of State were to grant a planning permission in respect of a called-in application, then any details of the scheme that are the subject of planning conditions would need to be submitted to and approved by the relevant local planning authority.